Over the last 10 years, only two teams have struggled down the stretch and gone on to win the World Series.
One was the 2006 Cardinals, considered by most to be somewhat of a postseason anomaly. The other was the 2002 Angels, who scuffled over the final two weeks before turning it on in October. Here is a quick look at how recent World Series champions fared down the stretch:
2009 Yankees: 8-3
2008 Phillies: 13-3
2007 Red Sox: 6-3
2006 Cardinals: 3-9
2005 White Sox: 8-2
2004 Red Sox: 7-2
2003 Marlins: 6-1
2002 Angels: 4-7 (though they won three of their final four games)
2001 Diamondbacks: 8-3
Beerleaguer: The 2011 Phillies are currently on a five-game losing streak - all at home - and they're just 4-9 in their last 13 games. I haven't had a chance to examine the "clinching factor" in all of this, i.e. how other World Series champions fared immediately after clinching the division or their league's best record, but I'd imagine that a four- or five-day hangover isn't uncommon. While I don't put a ton of value on the above records, it certainly would be nice to see the Phils return to their old form, at least to some extent, over the final eight games. At this point, I'm more concerned about individual players (Bastardo, Utley, and several banged-up veterans) than I am about the team as a whole.